A South London pub could be lost forever if a council doesn’t buy it, punters have warned. The Baring Hall Hotel in Lewisham has been closed since the Covid lockdown in 2020.
Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling on Lewisham Council to purchase the Grade II listed boozer so that it can re-open. Campaigners say the 140-year-old pub has suffered decades of neglect and is at risk of closing forever unless the local authority steps in.
They are calling on Lewisham to issue a compulsory purchase order against the building – which allows a council to acquire land without the owner’s consent. A total of 325 residents have put their name to a petition demanding Lewisham takes action to save the pub.
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It reads: “We the undersigned petition the council to compulsory purchase The Baring Hall Hotel in Grove Park. This historic pub is now in grave danger following more than a decade of neglect and we now request Lewisham Council to use its power of compulsory purchase to acquire it for the community.
“It is one of the most significant 19th century pubs in the UK as its construction heralded a major change in pub culture, away from Victorian gin palaces and brassy, stand-up boozers to ‘improved pubs’, ones that had meeting rooms, provided meals and supplied tea and coffee and even a tea garden.”
Locals previously saved The Baring Hall Hotel from being bulldozed following a fire at the pub in 2009. The pub’s owners submitted plans to demolish it and replace it with flats but residents challenged the plans in the High Court in 2011 and won. The pub became the first in the borough to be listed as an asset of community value in January 2013, before being listed as a building of national importance in 2018.
Campaigners say the time has now come to reopen the pub so that locals can benefit from it. The petition reads: “The owners of The Baring have neglected and abused it so much over a decade that it is now in grave danger. The pub should be open and operating and playing a vital social and economic role in the life of the community.”
Posting on Twitter, Cllr Mark Jackson, Labour member for Grove Park, said the pub should be open for residents. He said: “The #BaringHallHotel has been closed for far too long. It should be open, thriving and at the heart of our community in #GrovePark. If the ownership won’t run it, they should sell it to somebody who will – we won’t let it be sold off as flats so those are their only choices.”
Lewisham Council and the pub’s owner, Antic, have been contacted.